Back From the ‘50s

John Gunnell |
The Catalina covered about 1,700 to 1,800 miles.

The Catalina covered about 1,700 to 1,800 miles.

Our travels recently took us to the Pontiac club (www.poci.org) show in Wichita, Kan. We drove the ’53 Catalina down to Kansas, heading out to Albert Lea, Minn., and then traveling south on I-35 nearly all the way to our destination. Forty years ago we drove a ’53 Pontiac Chieftain sedan there. This time it was different. The changes were both bad and good.

In 1974, the trip went from New York to Wichita. One night we stopped to eat at a historic tavern in Missouri. The curator saw our Empire State license plate and visited with us during dinner. He told us about the history of the place. Then, he was called away. When he returned, he told us President Nixon had just resigned. This year there was no Presidential resignation during out trip.

Our 2014 trip was about 850 miles. If we remember right, the 1974 trip was more like 1200 miles as the crow flies. That was our first trip across country and we meandered a bit. So, we actually drove 2,000 miles. We took a lot of back roads and went slow. Today, there doesn’t seem to be any back roads and you can’t go slowly on the Interstate.

In 1974, the concrete highways we traveled were very empty. This year, everywhere we went, they seemed to be chopping up those rock solid concrete roadways and replacing them with asphalt. Want to be they are using that “reconstituted” asphalt that dandelions grow right through? How long do you thing the new roads will last?

One of the high points of the trip was the ride home. As we traveled north out of Des Moines, Iowa back towards Albert Lea, we began to see a steady stream of old cars and hot rods returning from the “Back to the Fifties” show in St. Paul, Minn. That event is said to draw 10,000 to 12,000 cars and we probably saw 10 percent of them rolling down the highway. What a great sight it was to see those old timers doing what they were made to do. We’re happy to say that very few of them were riding on trailers.

 

 

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